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Californians back new policies to fight climate change, poll says

Californians are concerned about the effects of climate change and support new steps to address the problem, according to a poll released Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California.

The results could provide fodder for Gov. Jerry Brown and his fellow Democrats in the state Legislature, who are seeking new regulations to stem greenhouse gas emissions.

“The results demonstrate beyond the shadow of a doubt that Californians of all stripes understand the moral and economic imperatives of action to address climate change and clean up our air, and the legislature is heeding their call,” Senate leader Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) said in a statement.

Senate Republican Leader Bob Huff (R-San Dimas) said the poll was flawed because it did not ask about the possibility that new environmental rules would create higher prices for Californians.

"This is the problem with the bills working their way through the Legislature," he said in a statement. "They have lofty goals but are not upfront about how they will be met and at what cost to families and small businesses."

The poll said 62% of Californians believe the effects of climate change are already being felt, and 79% described it as a "very serious" or "somewhat serious threat." In addition, 64% said it has contributed to the current drought, which is in its fourth year.

“The threat of global warming to the state’s future is a shared belief among inland and coastal residents and Californians across racial and ethnic groups,” said Mark Baldassare, PPIC president, in a statement.

However, he noted, there's still a partisan divide on the issue. While 66% of Democrats called global warming a "very serious" threat, only 26% of Republicans said the same.

In the poll, Californians were asked about three ways to help the state meet its targets for reducing emissions: boosting energy efficiency in older buildings, increasing the generation of renewable energy and cutting the amount of gasoline used for transportation. All the proposals, which are being debated by the Legislature, received a majority of support from likely voters.

In addition, Californians don't seem to have economic concerns about climate change policies -- the poll said they were more likely to think that addressing the issue would result in more jobs rather than fewer.

The poll included 1,702 residents and was conducted over the phone from July 12 to 21. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.7%.

Follow @chrismegerian for more updates from Sacramento.

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